One of the nice things about “Nightwing” is how over the past year or so, Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows have built up a family of characters and settings around the protagonist. That pays off in “Nightwing” #15, because when bad things happen to the people at Haly’s Circus, it’s a group that has been around long enough for them to not just be a bunch of nameless redshirts getting abused.
It would have been easy for Higgins to drop the Haly’s Circus angle after the initial storyline a year ago, but “Nightwing” #15 shows why it was smart to keep them around. It gives Higgins a good hook to plunge Dick Grayson directly into the events of “Death of the Family,” even more so than just his connection to Batman. One of the two characters targeted by the Joker feels like this has been a long time coming, even as it’s brave to get rid of a character that the readers have come to know and like. It’s a strong move that gets your attention quickly.
In general, “Nightwing” #15 hits all of its marks well. Dick’s personal, professional, and superhero relationships all progress here. The thread with Sonia in particular has been paced out well; it hasn’t felt rushed nor is it moving too fast, and this latest step in the “will they/won’t they?” feels like it arrived at just the right time. For a character that higher-ups infamously were ready to kill off a few years ago, Higgins has given him a title that has become a welcoming slice into his life each month.
Barrows’ pencils are good this month; everyone feels well-formed and fleshed out, and the two-page spread of Nightwing and Batgirl moving across the rooftops is impressive. It feels larger than life and turns an ordinary moment for comics into something special, which is how it should be. In general I think the backgrounds are particularly good this month; who knew an old abandoned business could look so creepy?
In the end, Higgins and Barrows have treaded the fine line and made a comic that both works as a tie-in to another book’s storyline (“Death of the Family”) as well as still made the comic worth reading if you’re just a “Nightwing” fan. “Nightwing” remains, as always, a solid performer that entertains.